On Friday, HHS announced new opportunities for states to receive federal funding to support the creation of their health insurance exchanges, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/29).
Under the federal health reform law, states by January 2014 must create state-based health insurance exchanges to provide coverage options for individuals and small businesses.
States can choose to administer the exchanges -- for which they must have some infrastructure in place by January 2013 -- or have the federal government run it for them.
A third option -- the "partnership model," in which the government would assist states in establishing the exchanges without completely taking over operations -- also is available (iHealthBeat, 6/8).
Most insurance exchanges will rely on a solid IT foundation to connect with advanced eligibility systems for Medicaid and other state-administered health programs (iHealthBeat, 5/30).
Details of the Funding
Until the end of 2014, states can apply for the new funding to work on state-run health insurance exchanges, state-federal partnership exchanges or federally facilitated exchanges.
Level one grants are available for states that have made some progress in establishing their exchanges, and level two grants are available for states that are further along in their exchange implementation.
HHS did not disclose an estimate for the total value of the grants (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 6/29).
HHS Issues Guidance on Exchanges
In addition to announcing the grant opportunities, HHS issued guidance to states about how to use the new funds for exchange-building activities.
The department said it will hold regional implementation forums in the coming months to assist states and stakeholders (HHS release, 6/29).